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Suppose I ask a student in a grade school class, like the one I taught when our second daughter was still in the womb, and we needed money to cover the cost of her birth, to tell me the answer to questions like, “What is 7 times 7?   Then I ask, “What is 8 times 4?, and what is 11 times 12?  Now, let’s suppose that the student answered immediately with the numbers 49, 72, and 132.  Most likely we would agree that in that case, I could safely conclude that the student probably knows all the multiplication table up through 12 times 12.

But, I am looking for more than just a probability about multiplication tables through the number 12 based on only three questions.  So, this time I ask five multiplication problems, and I get correct answers immediately.  I am now even more sure of my original conclusion.  The point is that each correct answer I got increases my conviction about the student’s competence in the multiplication tables.  Each answer was a sign.

Let’s go a step further.  Knowing the multiplication tables is one thing.  Having a reason to use them is another.  In some contexts, the correct answer to 4 times 7 could be more than just a sign of a person’s competence in multiplying numbers.  It could be a sign that a particular medical person wants to be sure that the amount of medication in the syringe is what the patient needs.  It is now a sign not only of mathematical competence, but a sign of morality and commitment to healthy life.

If we take what I have just described as analogous to why the Apostle John, in the New Testament gospel that bears his name, referred to Jesus’ miracles as signs, we can observe two items.

On one hand, the miracles were signs that Jesus dominated an area of life that was beyond the capability of other people.  Let’s go back to the 7 times 7 question.  Many people can answer that question.  But, I think of the person that could immediately give a correct answer, using only mental calculation, to “what is 156 times 339?  Such a person stands out as both strange and wonderful!!

Some things Jesus did impacted people in that way, and the event was easily considered to be a sign of Jesus’ “more than typical human” nature.  Did everyone that saw the miracles immediately start calling Jesus “Yahweh / Jehovah”?  No, they did not.  But, many people did start seeing Jesus as a Godly person in a way that they themselves were not!

On the other hand, the miracles of Jesus were signs of Jesus’ moral value system.  They were part of what was necessary for the well being of the other person/persons.   Jesus was face to face with cases of people who desperately needed help.  Some were blind, some were crippled, some were hungry, some were in a storm on the Sea of Galilee.  There were some cases when Jesus did a miracle because the other person or people needed an act of compassion.  In those cases, Jesus’ love (acting in accord with the well being of the other) led Jesus to do a miracle.  There was a “life problem to be solved”, and the miracle was part of that solution that Jesus could and did provide.  The miracle was a sign of Jesus’ love for others.

So, what do we see?  We see that Jesus’ miracles could be signs / indicators of at least two different facets of Jesus.  One was Jesus’ supernatural ability.  The other was Jesus’ impeccable nature of love.  Jesus was not a one dimensional person.  Neither are we, are we?

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